It's now been a couple of years since Dallas-based folk-rocker Ronnie Fauss delivered his debut full-length record for New West imprint Normaltown Records, 2012's I Am the Man You Know I'm Not. That album won him national acclaim from notable outlets such as Vanity Fair and the New York Times, among many others. After a handful of years self-releasing excellent EPs at his own, quick pace, Fauss is now ready to offer his sophomore LP, Built to Break, which he mostly recorded in Nashville.
As a preview of the record, Fauss is releasing a new duet with the Old 97's Rhett Miller, called "Eighteen Wheels," and DC9 at Night has the exclusive premiere.
Though much of the album was tracked in the home of Rayna James and Juliette Barnes, Fauss made sure to include plenty of local touches on this album, including the talents of Eric Neal, his long-time multi-instrumentalist. There are also some sweet harmony vocals from Camille Cortinas, especially on Fauss' inventive cover of Phosphorescent's "Song for Zula." But it's a tune in which the vocals were recorded here in Dallas that gives the record a truly Texas-sized amount of country-rock fun.
"Eighteen Wheels" wasn't initially intended as a duet, but when Fauss thought about adding another voice to the song, his first thought was to look for the man behind the group that has practically defined alt-country for Dallas over the past couple of decades. Much to his satisfaction, Rhett Miller loved the song and was all-too happy to help Fauss out.
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Fauss admits this new record needed some upbeat fun mixed into what he calls "a pretty heavy record, thematically." As he was hanging in a motel room in Laguna Beach, "without a care in the world," Fauss wrote this trucker tune that would lighten up the overall feel of Built to Break. To add to that, of course, few can add liveliness to a song the way Miller so famously does.
"We had the song tracked and then got the idea to find someone to contribute some vocals on it, another voice to mix things up," Fauss explains." We sent it to Rhett, he listened and said he was into it and we were thrilled; our first choice said yes! His contribution turned out as great as we anticipated. His presence brings an extra edge to the song and the album that elevates things a bit."
And so the two singers finally met, not in Nashville, but here in Dallas, at a landmark that no other city can boast. "We met up in Deep Ellum one Sunday morning this summer, got some breakfast at the All Good and then walked down to the studio. He knocked it out in an hour. It was definitely an education watching him work. He's a pro and it showed."
Like its predecessor, Built to Break was recorded with noted Music City-based drummer Sigirdur Birkis. The album will see its official release on November 4, 2014.